I enjoyed this game. It’s challenging without being impossible.
Theme and What is it?
*Note* Copy of game provided by publisher for review.
Space; the final front- (What’s that Josh?… Sued?… Copy right?… Fine!) Space; the great expanse of darkness. Your intrepid crew has discovered a long-abandoned planet that may give you a look into the history of a powerful foe. Scanning the planet you discover an energy signature that may lead you to lost relics of your foe. The captain assembled a stalwart team, loaded them on a shuttle, and led them down to the planet to find these lost pieces of technology. What you found was an intricate network of caves filled with carnivorous bugs the large dogs. The captain went forth with hand extended in peace. He’s dead now. It’s up to the rest of you to complete the mission. You must explore the caves, find the relics, and protect the shuttle from the bugs. Succeed at your mission and head back to the ship as heroes.
Would you like to know more?
The Captain is Dead: Dangerous Planet is a base defense game with unique character powers and a modular map. You’ll work together of a series of rounds to explore the cave system to find the necessary artifacts to complete the mission. In addition, you’ll defend your shuttlecraft; the only means of escape. All of this while dealing with advancing bugs, failing computer systems, and malfunctioning gear. If you can survive long enough to find the relics you need and survive the bug advances, then you can win the day.
The Captain is Dead: Dangerous Planet uses action point allotment as its primary mechanic. You’ll begin the game with one of twenty-one unique characters. Each character has several action points, built in skills, and a unique power.
On your turn you’ll get several action points defined by your character. You can use these to move through the tunnels, deploy defensive equipment, use the systems on the computer, retrieve relics, and kill bugs. To perform any actions, you must pay skill cards. Every action, except for walking and fighting bugs requires specific skill cards to perform.
You get skill cards from the shuttle. You can draw them from a three face-up cards or from the top of the deck depending on which pieces of technology you have working on the ship. Skill cards come in five varieties: engineering, command, tactical, science, and wild. Each character also has two built in skills they can use for every check.
Once you’ve completed your turn, you’ll activate an alert card. You play these from a deck of cards and if you have the right ship systems running some of them will be face up letting you know in advance what’s coming allowing you to prepare. These will spawn bugs, disable ships’ systems, and reveal pieces of the cave.
Like most cooperative games there are multiple ways to win. If you lose too many artifacts, the shuttle takes too much damage, or the alert deck runs out of cards. You win the game if you collect several relics based on the difficulty level.
I enjoy challenging cooperative games and really enjoy Star Trek. While this isn’t specifically Star Trek the DNA is there. Because of that and some things I’d heard about the previous The Captain is Dead games, I was excited about this.
Game Build Quality
Everything’s pretty good. I like the card quality; they’re sturdy and should hold up to multiple plays. All the tokens and board tiles are nice and thick with a good finish that keeps them from getting dinged up.
The player standees are a clear plastic with colored images of the crewmen on them. I honestly, don’t know how I feel about these. They feel fragile. They have displayed no fragility, but the feeling is still there. They work great and don’t detract from play but they just feel off to me. It may just be that I’m not used to having pieces like this.
There are also three clear plastic disks that are used for markers. They’re functional but very easy to lose. I temporarily lost one and only found it again by shear chance. Since you need not see what they’re sitting on top of they could have been colored to prevent that.
There’s a very stylized art style to the game. Everything has sharp corners and is more representative than being actual. It’s serviceable but not a style I’m a huge fan of. I don’t hate it. It doesn’t ruin the game for me but I’m not recommending people look at the art in this game.
This is a challenging cooperative base defense game. You will judge when to explore vs when to pull back. You have the constant timer of the alert deck counting down and pushing you forward. This keeps you from turtling and running out the monsters. You must plan out what you’re doing and try to find a good place for your gear and weapons.
Age Range & Weight
The box says 14+ and I think this is close. You must work together, use your character the best, and keep the rules in mind. While the rules aren’t particularly tricky, the strategy in the game can be. I think a 14-year-old could play the game fairly well.
Overall, I enjoyed this game. It’s challenging without being impossible. Most times we lost it felt like it was bad planning on our part. It usually came down to pushing a bit too far forward, or not protecting the right cave from assault. There is some luck to the game. It’s possible for the relics to come out late and deep into the cave forcing you to advance further than you’d prefer. The skill cards coming from a deck make it difficult to have what you want right away. You could have a bad shuffle and have all the cards you need at the bottom.
The game encourages replays. The modular nature of the tunnels lets you build whatever nest system you like. This allows you customize the difficulty. A few longer tunnels with the nests bunched at the far end will be easier to defend than lots of short tunnels with the nests spread out. However, the shorter tunnels were easier to explore. You’ll never have enough skills, actions, and time to do everything you feel you need to in the game. It gives a good hurried feeling that moves the game along.
The way you do character selection is also nice. You get a random color at the beginning of the game. Each color has three characters attached to it. You’ll choose which character you want to use. I haven’t used every character in the game yet but I don’t feel any of them are better or worse than the others. I think some of them are more situational. The hologram feels like it works best in larger groups.
The Captain is Dead plays up to seven and I think more players is better. Though I haven’t played with a full compliment. The draw back to this is down time between turns and how quickly you’ll get to do things. The engineer is great at moving the gear cards from tunnel to tunnel but in a larger game you’ll most likely not get the chance.
As I said earlier, I’m not a huge fan of the standees. Again, I don’t think they are bad they just don’t feel right. This is a preference thing and I might not affect you the same as it did me.
I think this is a good game that can be lots of fun. It has solid mechanics with good decisions. I’m looking forward to playing some more with my friends and having a good time.
That said, as always try before you buy. Head to your local game store or con and give this one a whirl.
Until next time, be well.
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